WARREN — Steve Elturk says he was shocked at the reaction he received over his request to establish the first mosque in Warren.
The controversial project approved by the Warren Planning Commission ignited concerns from residents and commission members over traffic, ties to terrorists and religious sacrifices.
The mosque would be at Ryan Road south of 12 Mile.
“It’s horrifying,” said Elturk, president of the Islamic Organization of North America. “Unfortunately, there is a huge gap between understanding other faiths and other cultures among the people in Warren.
“It is our challenge now to make sure that the residents, No. 1, are comfortable with us.”
Education efforts have already begun by Elturk and the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The chapter, based in Lathrup Village, is planning to organize a symposium this summer with religious groups in Warren to discuss intolerance.
“We believe that through discussion and respectful dialogue, this will turn people who have bad feelings about others into possible friends,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the local chapter. “People are the enemies of that which they do not know.”